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National conservation group calls for Fisheries Act with bite

  • Published on Feb 27 2007 |
  • This article is tagged as: bc

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CPAWS, one of Canada\'s oldest and most respected national conservation organizations, is calling on the federal government to withdraw the proposed new Fisheries Act, Bill C-45, from second reading in Parliament until the Act is revised to give stronger protection for fish stocks and habitat.

Bill C-45, an update of Canada\'s Fisheries Act of 1868, was introduced in the House of Commons in December 2006 and was submitted for second reading on February 23rd 2007. CPAWS is concerned that the new Act does not provide sufficient measures for conservation and habitat stewardship.

"Canada needs a Fisheries Act that legislates the protection of fish habitat and an innovative management approach. Bill C-45 does not respond to the current crisis in our oceans, lakes and rivers. As it is written, it won\'t not restore damaged ecosystems or ensure sustainable fisheries," says Sabine Jessen, national manager of CPAWS\' Oceans and Freshwater Great Lakes program.

"Everyone agrees the current Act is in dire need of modernization to address current crises in global fisheries," says Jessen. "The world\'s oceans are under increasing assault from overfishing, pollution and global warming and are expected to collapse completely by mid-century without immediate action to protect habitats," she adds, quoting research by scientist Boris Worm of Dalhousie University published in the respected journal Science last fall.

CPAWS is concerned that Bill C-45 fails to set any clear environmental standards and leaves the Minister and fisheries managers with no obligation to identify and protect crucial fish habitat from destructive fishing practices.

"The Bill leaves standards to be set in the future through regulations," says Julie Huntington, a biologist and executive director of the CPAWS-Newfoundland chapter. "The Bill doesn\'t require the Minister to conserve or protect habitat. Stronger legislation than that is needed if we ever hope to recover Atlantic groundfish stocks," she adds.

"Canada needs an Act that legislates effective fisheries management," says Laura Hussey, marine coordinator of the CPAWS Nova Scotia chapter. "The preamble refers to an ecosystem approach to management, but the Bill does not mandate any requirements for this approach."

CPAWS has submitted a comprehensive federal action plan for nature conservation to the current government calling for increased spending on marine protection.

"We also need a new act that acknowledges current threats to fish and their habitat and provides clear provisions to address these threats - most importantly, the identification and stronger protection of critical fish habitats," says Jessen.

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Contacts:

VANCOUVER
Sabine Jessen, National Manager, Oceans and Great Lakes, CPAWS
(604) 685-7445 ext. 27 or (604)657-2813 (cell)

OTTAWA
Ellen Adelberg, Director of Communications, CPAWS
(613) 569-7226 ext. 234
http://www.cpaws.org

ST. JOHN\'S
Julie Huntington, Executive Director, CPAWS Newfoundland
(709) 726-5800
http://www.cpawsnl.org

HALIFAX
Laura Hussey, Marine Coordinator, CPAWS Nova Scotia
(902) 446-4155